Number of cases soars, Last flights out, Cuenca patients hospitalized, WHO recommends against ibuprofen, Colombia and Peru lock down

Mar 17, 2020 | 31 comments

The number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Ecuador has risen to 113, the National Risk Management Service reported Tuesday morning. The number is up from 58 on Monday and 37 on Sunday. In Cuenca, confirmed cases rose to seven from one on Monday. The Ministry of Health reports that there are a total of 84 cases in Guayas Province, 11 in Los Rios, eight in Pichincha, seven in Azuay, and one in Manabí, Morona Santiago and Sucumbíos.

An airline passenger in Guayaquil is tested for the coronavirus.

In addition to the confirmed cases, 451 people are being quarantined under government surveillance and will be tested as needed.

In a television interview Tuesday morning, Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner acknowledged that there are many more cases in the country than are officially confirmed. “We do not know the real number, of course, and this is why it is so important that people follow the rules to reduce the spread of the virus. This is a crisis that we must all solve together.”

He added that Ecuador has adopted stringent measures against the virus because much remains unknown about it. “This is a developing situation and all we know is that it is spreading at an exponential rate. Based on confirmed cases, the World Health Organization reports that the death toll is almost four percent, which is extremely high and extremely alarming.”

Last commercial flights out of Ecuador
The international airports in Guayaquil and Quito confirm that airlines are making their last international departures from Ecuador today until travel restrctions are lifted. The government has announced that outgoing flights are still allowed but, as of Monday, all international commercial carriers, say they plan no more flights until further notice. On Monday, President Lenin Moreno said the ban on incoming international flights is in effect for 21 days but that it may be extended. The Foreign Ministry says that several foreign governments, including Canada’s, are organizing charter flights to repatriate their citizens. It said that other flights may be privately chartered.

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Four Cuenca virus patients are hospitalized
Three of Cuenca’s seven confirmed coronavirus patients are under treatment at Vicente Corral Hospital while another is in a private hospital. Three others are under mandatory quarantine in their homes. According to Julio Molina, director of the regional health ministry, three of the infected persons had recently traveled to Spain and Italy while it is unknown where the other four contracted the disease.

WHO recommends against ibuprofen for virus
The World Health Organization (WHO) is recommending that people with Covid-19 not use ibuprofen for pain relief, saying the anti-inflammatory drug could aggravate the effects of the virus. The recommendation followed a warning by the French health ministry against the drug. “Our experts are currently investigating the effects of ibuprofen in order to give future guidelines, but in the meantime we recommend using paracetamol (acetaminophen) when self-medicating,” WHO spokesman Christian Lindmeier said Tuesday at a news conference.

Peru and Colombia also under quarantine
The governments of Peru and Colombia have adopted measures similar to Ecuador to combat the coronavirus. On Monday night, Colombian President Iván Duque ordered a ban on all international flights into the country and closed border crossing and ocean ports to travelers. As of Monday, Peru had 71 confirmed cases of Covid-19 while Colombia is reporting 57.

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